Freedom of speech and assembly are vital in a democracy and must be guaranteed even if they involve some irrationality and infringement of rights of non-participating citizens. But the scenes in Melbourne yesterday, engineered by a tiny group of militant thugs, in assaulting police and journalists and in destroying property, create the basis for non-reflective, repressive policies that threaten these basic rights of dissent. Thuggish actions are intrinsically unethical.
Those who carried out these attacks may be from dysfunctional families and revolting against mum or dad – there is no coherent message in their claims and, in the main, they just seem to want to let off steam. They are apparently 'rehearsing for a revolution' against capitalism’s tyrannies by voicing oedipal concerns – ‘mommy I won’t eat my broccoli’. In practical terms they comprise a disparate group of greens and the socialist left.
The protests were irrationally directed against the globalization summit. But greater international economic integration via globalization is the best chance the world has for prosperity and peace. Developing countries need developed country know-how and capital. Developed countries need the cheap labour and enormous markets offered by newly-emerging economies. The rapid economic development of the Asian region is proof of that and the best way of addressing Africa’s serious economic difficulties is by reducing trade barriers that restrict export of the agricultural products African countries produce. Even issues of climate change will mainly harm poor countries and can in part be addressed by negotiation with developed countries – these were precisely the concerns being discussed at yesterday’s G20 meet.
Furthermore, we are less likely to have global wars if most countries are prosperous – the problems that confront the world’s civilized nations from Islam stem basically from the fact that Islamic countries contain millions of miserable, resentful losers.
The morons at yesterday’s demonstration (look here to see if the term ‘moron’ is appropriate) are hardly likely to appreciate such arguments. As much as anything their unfocused efforts seemed to be mainly a Saturday afternoon’s bout of shouting and cop-bashing. Only 7 thugs were arrested yesterday – ‘for biting police’ amoong other things. Arresting them probably won’t change much – indeed these riffraff treat an arrest as a badge of honour. But those who assault anyone should be charged with assault and those who damage property should be provided with a comprehensive bill. The police in fact turned a blind eye to much of their violence (here, here) though, tonight on the TV news, it seems they are finally going after the worst of these thugs.
The protest flopped almost totally today. Even Labor Premier Steve Bracks came out and called them cowards. Their only minor victory was that The Age, as usual, gave these creeps front page coverage two days in a row.